As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau
How do you stop the flame from going out inside of you, amidst the craziness of modern living? To keep the flame burning in the lamp, we must endeavour to keep putting the oil of purpose in it, and we need to carry it with us to light our path as we walk it. But just what is our path and how do we find it? Is following your path like cutting a swath through a hot dangerous jungle with a machete or is it a civilized stroll along some scenic route that is pleasant, easy and fun? Perhaps, a life path is something only spiritual people talk about. Or maybe, what we do for a living is our path?
Does it feel like it’s not very realistic to follow our path, or that only rich people or creative geniuses follow a path? And don’t forget about all the good opinions of others who may think we’re being unrealistic or selfish if we follow our path. Fearful people love to tell us that following our path may cause us to go broke or crazy. Maybe following our path is just too difficult and is only for brave people or fools. So if following a path is a fantasy or something that may bring discomfort or challenges, no wonder so many people say, “No Way!” But I would offer that it will come up for us at some point in our life, and for most of us that time will be the moment is when we are dying or sick and running out of time.
In spite of all the living we do, much of it is on autopilot, and a common response for people who are running out of time is to say, “Did I really live or was I too busy worrying about little things that don’t mean anything now.” They often get a glimpse of the path they wanted to follow, but didn’t.
As the body crumbles, the soul awakens. This is why dying people always tell the living to follow your dreams. Don’t wait for sickness or death. Do it while there is still time. But now, here is the mystery. There is no path because everything is the path; and inside of that everything, there are two important distinctions: our master path and our secondary path. The master path is our inner path, our path of meaning. The secondary path is our outer path, where we put that meaning into action out in the world. The master path is about being and the secondary path is about doing.
Now, where are we on our master path? Standing still? Walking backwards? Eyes opened or closed? Sprinting forward. Once we honestly assess where we think we are, the next step to discuss involves a word that I think is the key to traveling well on our life journey: congruent, which means in agreement or harmony.
Through the course of the mentoring work I do, I am asked this question over and over again about the purpose of life and how people can figure out what they came down here to do. Everybody is convinced they inhabited a human body because there is one thing the universe wants them to do; and, they have to find that out. That’s my life path: to find out this big mystery. Until then, I’m waiting to live my life.
Here is what I think: God doesn’t care what we do. We didn’t come here to do anything specific at all. We came here to express our divinity in a body, so that divinity could experience itself through this body. We can call that our master path, which has nothing to do with anything external, because every step is really an internal journey. It is not about time; it is about presence. It is about trust; it is your internal spiritual journey, whatever that means to you and what ever form it takes. The challenge facing each of us is to become congruent: to accomplish becoming in harmony with our soul, our true nature.
But wait a second, we live in a world of externals, where we are bombarded every day with messages that try to make us believe everything we are seeking is outside of us. If we can just find that magic bullet, then we’ll be happy. So we make our secondary path what we think our life is about, the path of doing. It’s a question of getting the order mixed up.
Imagine we have one foot in a boat going East, and one foot in a boat going West. As they slowly drift away, we start to have to stretch wider and wider, until finally we have to choose one or end up in the water. A lot of people lives their lives like this, when really the art of life is to get our master path and our secondary path floating in the same direction. As simple as that goal is to articulate, it is not always so easy to do this out in the real world. Yet accomplishing inner congruence is the diamond around which floats all the other goals we associate with happiness.
We cannot be truly healthy if we are out of alignment. We cannot be contented if our mind and heart are at war with each other. We cannot know what a happy fulfilled life is about if our fear of the consequences outweighs our desire to live life on our terms. We can’t love ourselves if we can’t trust ourselves. So what does it look like to be in harmony with our Master Path? Here are a few places to look:
- Our sense of self-worth is rooted in our personal values and integrity, but also in our innate belief in the universal: what we want, health and happiness, everybody wants. Everybody is special and nobody is special. It’s a sense of realizing that you are me and I am you. We might eat different foods or have a different religion, or no religion at all, but we all want something that at its heart is universal. We follow our master path by following our internal guidance system while doing our best not to judge others.
- Intuitive guidance system is in harmony with our mind and body. That just means we trust our intuition, our gut, letting it lead us as needed.
- We connect to the intelligence of our body and what it tells us. We understand the feedback we get from our body and let it guide us.
- We engage with our life on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. In addition, we know how each part of us communicates with our other parts. Feeling and reason are in harmony with each other.
- We are open and flexible to our path not always being what we think it should be. In the Tao Te Ching, one of my favourite stanzas is, “The good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.”
- We make choices based on love and harmony rather than fear and selfishness. We know at a very deep level that we seek this harmonious resonance in every relationship we have and especially in places we find ourselves. We immediately sense when we are out of alignment with someone or something.
Congruence is our spiritual resting place. The master path is not what we do, but who we are through expressing that quality of being with each step, as best as we can be in the moment. The master path is our why. Congruence is the foundation that will help us sort out our secondary path.
The secondary path is the path of doing. We may call it the how/what/where/when stuff. Some people know their secondary path while others do not, or some may want to change it, trying something new. It is all good, as long as our master path and secondary path are moving in the same general direction, so our master path points us in the direction of what would be our best secondary path. If our two paths are in alignment, then we will start to experience what I call the great sigh of relief. Human life is a paradox.
In the great wisdom traditions, we are said to be the soul, made in the image of spirit, which can never be fully satisfied with external pleasure; yet we also have a body and mind, which wants stuff and experiences. Our body uses the outer world as the place of fulfilment. Placed as we are between the material and the spiritual, we must use our endowment of discrimination to distinguish between the real soul pleasures of our master path and the limited ability of the secondary path to be our end all—be all. The secondary path must fade with time while the master path only becomes more powerful with time, if we care for it and develop it within ourselves.
The master path challenge: Every day for seven days, find a place in your life where you choose intuition over logic, passion over skill, adventure over safety, and hope over doubt. As you begin to break free from all the should-do obligations and the old belief systems as well as programming, then your true life path will be revealed, and with it, all your heart’s desires will become a reality.
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